Molly Jones finds Ratched, the new thriller series from Netflix, to be a mixed bag of excitement, gore, and cliché
In a world that becomes increasingly drab by the day, Ratched is the swift, sharp kick you need to remember where a TV series can take you. Equal parts ridiculous and respectable, Ryan Murphy’s newest show could be described as a combination of his previous series, American Horror Story: Asylum, and the theatrical and well crafted Knives Out. After snapping up Evan Romansky’s pilot script of an origin story for Nurse Ratched, of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Murphy did what Murphy does best: go overboard in the best (and worst) ways possible.
Centring on Lucia State Hospital in 1940’s America, the series follows Nurse Ratched (Sarah Paulson) on her magnificently manipulative path towards total control. Along the way we meet a menagerie of fantastically complex, morally grey women, with Sharon Stone as the murderous empress, Judy Davis as the wickedly delusional head nurse Betsy Bucket, and Amanda Plummer as the mad motel manager. Although they’re all one stroke short of a caricature, the casts’ talent rarely falters. A special mention is required for Sophie Okonedo who portrays Charlotte Wells, a patient with what is now known as dissociative identity disorder. In the same vein as Split, the presentation of the disorder is problematic, however the sheer skill of the performance cannot be ignored.
It’s essentially a story about mercy, murder, and lesbianism with a colour palette that’s nothing short of eye-watering
For all Ratched’s melodramatic extravagance, it doesn’t quite reach the heights it aims for. For a show so uniquely exciting, it has its painfully cliché moments, especially with the star-crossed lovers Dolly (Alice Englert) and Edmund (Finn Wittrock). You should also be warned of the borderline puke-inducing gore splattered throughout the series, as well as the disturbingly frequent instances of sexual perversion, and scenes of horrifying torture inflicted on the patients.
Despite its faults, the series still has some golden moments (look out for the peach argument). It’s essentially a story about mercy, murder, and lesbianism with a colour palette that’s nothing short of eye-watering. Overall, Ratched will make you jump, gag, and laugh in equal measure; but it’s unlikely to move you further than that.